Report of Haydon Wick Youth Council visit to Gablecross Police Station on Wednesday 27 February 2013
Haydon Wick Youth Council visited the Gablecross Police Station at South Marston on 27 February 2013. This is the Operational Headquarters of Wiltshire Police for the Swindon division. The visit was organised by PCSO Hannah Cox (a member of the North Swindon Neighbourhood Policing Team) and she arranged for the group to look round the Custody Unit, and meet with Police Officers in the Armed Response and Police Dog Units.
The group met with the Detention Officer in the Custody Unit who explained about the process when a detainee is brought into the police station and the reasons why they can be detained, for example for breach of the peace, drunk and disorderly (especially busy on Friday and Saturday evenings). Fortunately the day of the visit, the unit was very quiet and as there were no detainees in the cells area the group were able to go into the cells and experience what it was like to be locked up. They were also taken into the exercise yard.
When a detainee is brought in they go through various procedures which include being interviewed, having their fingerprints taken electronically and their photograph taken. They are also searched and their valuables secured in a locker until they are released. The Detention Officer explained that detainees have certain rights when they are in custody. They can be held for 24 hours before they are charged. However, during serious circumstances detainees can be held for up to a week. Appropriate Adults can help to provide support and advice to vulnerable people and juveniles (under the age of 17 years) during the time they are detained.
The group were then taken outside and met with two Officers from the Armed Response Unit (ARU). The Wiltshire Police’s Armed Response Group is based in Devizes and covers the whole of the Wiltshire area. They are part of the Operations department which responds to major and serious crimes where firearms are involved. The Police Officers gave a very interesting talk on the variety of weapons they handle, and showed the group some of examples of the weapons they carry on their person and in the Armed Response Vehicle; these included a hand pistol, rifles and tazar guns.
The group also met with an Officer from the Police Dog Unit who brought along his two dogs, one a Belgium Sheppard who is trained as an attack dog, and the other a Springer Spaniel who is trained to search for drugs as well as guns and money. He was named Charlie, and demonstrated to the group his speed in finding a hidden training aid. He was given a ball afterwards as his reward. The Officer explained that police dogs can work up to the age of 8 or 9 years and usually live at their handler’s home in a specially built kennel in the handler’s garden.
The group all agreed that the visit had been a great success and the chance to experience first-hand some of the operations carried out by the police.
Several members of the Youth Council gave their account of the visit.
The highlights of the Gablecross Police Station visit for Simon and Grandad Chris were:
- Being locked in the custody cells; an exciting but salutary experience even for a few minutes.
- Being shown and handling the equipment of the Wiltshire Armed Response Unit. What a difficult and dangerous job these police officers have.
- Hearing about and seeing Alfie, the Belgium Shepherd, and Charlie, the Springer Spaniel; dogs that are doing different jobs. You approach Alfie at your peril and he is used to tackle dangerous people. Charlie is friendly and full of bounce and he was keen to demonstrate his skill at finding drugs and chasing after balls. This was loved by all.
Super night, they let us all out!
Thanks to the police is very much in order.
Isabel Smith wrote:
"We entered the police station at Gablecross, to be met by two PCs. The two ladies were very friendly.
They took us to see the cells. There are 40 cells split into 4 wings. Each wing had outside exercise yard. Each cell had bed, some had toilets, and sinks.
They had intercoms so they could contact the front desk. Next we were taken through the station, to the car park, where we meet two men from the Armed Response Unit. We got to see all the guns, and kit they have to take in their Armed Response Vehicle. They told us all about their jobs, and how they can subdue an assailant.
Next we met the dog unit. They had brought two dogs with them. One was a big Belgium Sheppard, called Alfie , who was quite aggressive, as his job was to attack and stop criminals. The other was a Springer spaniel called Charlie. His job is to sniff out drugs, money and weapons. He demonstrated his talents for us, by finding a practice toy that had been hidden.
It was a very interesting visit, and I enjoyed it a lot.”
Report of Haydon Wick Youth Council visit to Wyvern Theatre on Wednesday 23 January 2013
The members visited the Wyvern Theatre on 23 January 2013. When they arrived at the Theatre they were introduced to a member of the staff who took them on a guided tour of the main areas of the Theatre as detailed in the report below.
Control Room - this is where the lighting for the stage is controlled. There is normally 3 staff working in the control room, operating the lighting desk which controls the formation of the lighting and the sound desk which controls the different microphones and ensures that microphones are operating at the right time for each of the performers.
Auditorium - the group were taken into the auditorium, which has areas of seating called stalls, the circle and boxes. The Wyvern Theatre is known as a Touring Theatre, where performers come and put on a wide range of shows, for example, comedies, musicals, plays and local dance/music shows. The Wyvern only puts on 2 shows a year, the annual pantomime and the Summer Youth Project. The Youth Project runs during August for 2 weeks only. Between 100 and 150 young local people are invited to audition for the show, and to take part in the organisation and the running of it. The show is a full scale musical and this year the Youth Project is performing 'Our House'.
The Theatre was refurbished in 2001 and holds 635 seats at full capacity. The layout of the theatre gives everyone in the audience an unobstructed view of the stage. The Theatre has an Orchestra Pit at the front of the stage where several rows of the seating can be removed to accommodate a full orchestra below.
Backstage - The group were shown backstage. They were told about the prompt caller whose job is to control the performance, from prompting performers if they forget their lines, to calling them down from the dressing rooms.
The stage has an iron safety curtain which acts as a fire safety precaution. It is extremely heavy and is able to resist fires starting on stage from spreading to the auditorium and the rest of the theatre. The tour guide demonstrated the operating mechanism used to raise and lower the curtain.
The Fly Tower – is part of the system for moving equipment and set pieces. This is carried out manually by pulling ropes. There are 36 bars which can hang scenery and lighting for a show. A fly or rigging system is a system of ropes and pulleys that enable the stage crew to quietly and safely fly (hoist) components such as curtains, lights, and scenery and sometimes people.
The tour guide explained that years ago, scenery and equipment were carried on by sailors, hence the term ‘rigging.’ There is a thing about not being allowed to whistle on stage as this used to be a signal between sailors to indicate which part of the stage needed to be moved (each sailor had different whistles).
The Dock – this area is used to roll equipment onto the stage during productions.
Workshop – this is where the Theatre's staff design, paint and repair scenery and props.
Green Room - This room is common in every theatre and TV studio. It is a waiting room and lounge for performers before and after a performance and during the show when they are not engaged on stage. It is an area where they can relax and have refreshments.
The origin of the term is often ascribed to such rooms historically being painted green, yet the "green room" is usually not green at all. It is common for performers to feel nervous and sick before performances hence the term 'feeling green'.
Stage Door – This is where the performers enter and sign in at the Stage Door Office.
Dressing Rooms - The Theatre has 6 dressing rooms in total. The no. 1 room is occupied by the star of the show. The largest room no. 6 is normally reserved for the cast of the show and this can become quite crowded if it is a production where there are a lot of dancers/singers performing.
When the Theatre opened in 1971, performers who travelled from afar used to stay in the Theatre's flat during the duration of the shows. This is equipped with sleeping area, bathroom and kitchen.
The tour guide told the group about the Theatre's resident ghost, a 16 year old lad called Jack who was killed during the building of the Theatre. Unaccountable incidents occur, such as lights going on and off, and a tap being turned on.
Wardrobe Mistress Office - The Wardrobe Mistress oversees the wardrobe department and is responsible for ensuring that the costumes are cleaned and repaired as required. The room houses several washing machines, irons and sewing machines. The members had the opportunity to select and try on an item of clothing from the costume wardrobe.
Finally, the group were shown the Theatre Restaurant, which plays host to a variety of events throughout the year which combine entertainment and dining and the Theatre Director's, Admin and Finance Offices where the planning of the shows takes place, contracts agreed, etc. The Theatre employs 10 full time staff, 52 casual staff and around 250 volunteers who assist with duties such as ushering - selling refreshments and showing people to their seats.
The following article on the visit to the Wyvern Theatre was written by Simon Exell and Chris Hawkins, his Grandad (who attended the visit) and this has been included in the next edition of the Haydon Wick Newsletter.
On a dark wintry evening an intrepid group set out from the Haydon Wick Parish offices. The group consisted of Youth Council members, the Chairman and Assistant Clerk of the Parish Council plus others, about 16 in all.
Arriving at the theatre and trudging through snow and ice (and a few snowballs!) we were met in the foyer by the Theatre Manager who then took us on our tour. Booking office and cafe soon left behind we went up the steps to the control room at the back of the theatre where the lighting, sound, spotlight and recording equipment is housed.. All was explained in simple terms but how complex it was to amateur eyes. The view of the theatre and stage was brilliant.
Leaving the control room we went into the theatre which was eerily quiet but in pristine condition. Then we went down the side steps to the front of the theatre where one or two of us (youngsters) nearly disappeared from view into the orchestra pit which goes under the stage. This is enlarged by the removal of two rows of seats.
Up the steps to the stage, safety curtain down, learning about upstage, downstage, right stage, left stage and surprised by the size being much bigger than seen from the theatre seats. Then we saw the controller for the Prompt Manager; many switches because the manager controls everything during show time. Safety curtain up, followed by impromptu performances by some of us. Visit to Green Room where the cast go when not on stage, comfortable seats and drink making facilities. All theatres have a Green Room so named because show nerves could lead to people feeling under the weather (perish the thought!).
Then backstage to the storage areas and huge doors through which scenery is brought into the theatre by touring companies, etc. There’s even an area for animals such as the two ponies used for Cinderella. Then a look at all the dressing rooms (many stairs) for the stars and all the cast – these are quite cramped and often shared. Keith Chegwin and Aladdin were well remembered.
Into the flat which has to be used when casts are large, then along the ‘flies’ where there were manual ropes to control the scenery. Definitely hands off! Into another dressing room where the youngsters dressed themselves in clothes, uniforms, etc from many ages. There was lots of fun and laughter. Then we went outside onto the roof to reach all the new offices and the spacious restaurant. To finish our exciting tour we went back down to the foyer. It was a long, circular trip which was interesting, educational and fun. Many thanks to the Wyvern Theatre for giving us such a memorable tour.
Elizabeth Keenan: "I enjoyed touring backstage because the tour guide showed us how everything worked and where all the performers get changed. The safety curtain was interesting – it was made of metal."